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Milan-Catania Preview: Five For the Money


Massimiliano Allegri has us right where he wants us: on the edge of a cliff. We have five games to ensure our Champions League qualification, or we plunge off of the competitive and financial cliff into a Europa League spot. The first season, we hung on to win the Scudetto, Last year we choked and gave it up to Juventus. So how will this season end? We have five precious games to write our future. And it all starts when gli Elefanti come to town on Sunday.

Thank heavens Balotelli is back

The good news is that Catania, having had a great run this year and getting a look at European qualification, have been self-destructing faster than Berlusconi after he lost his appeal and will be forced to pay his wife €3m a month. Okay, maybe he hasn’t self-destructed yet, but he does have to pay up. Anyway, Catania’s current form consists of a W-L-D-D-D. Two of those draws were goalless, one at home to Cagliari, the other away to Chievo. And the last one was the Sicilian Derby last week vs. Palermo, where Ilicic’ last minute goal gave them the point and caused Catania to lose more than just the 2 points they would have had with the win.

You see, in order to completely self destruct, you need to do more than just throw points away, you need a couple of your starters to get suspended for fighting. Goalkeeper Mariano Andujar threw someone to the ground and got some punches to his stomach in before being red carded. Giuseppe Bellusci was apparently a little more discreet with his throat grab, as the ref did not see nor card him. But luckily for him, there is video replay and a sporting court. So both he and Andujar will be missing  not just one, but three matches for their misbehavior. Whereas Spolli will just miss our match for card accumulation.

Catania in full meltdown mode against Palermo

With injuries to Sciacca, Terracciano, Ricchiuti, and possibly Alvarez, poor Maran may have trouble finding a decent Argentinian squad to meet Milan on Sunday. The eleven starters last week in the Derby were Andujar; Spolli, Legrottaglie, Marchese, Bellusci, Almiron, Lodi, Izco; Bergessio, Gomez, and Barrientos. They are still dangerous, with their top scorer, Bergessio, on eight goals and four assists; Lodi always a double threat with six goals and six assists, and even our 6 month ex in Legrottaglie, who, as a center back, has two goals this season. That’s double Bonera’s career tally. And, rumor has it that he literally threw a bible at a teammate recently, so Bonera had really better watch out.

Speaking of Bonera, it is rumored that he will start next to Mexes, as Zapata is suspended. But worse than that, it is not clear yet whether Abbiati’s calf will heal in time for him to start, leaving Amelia to start in his place. Yes, Amelia, who conceded 2 goals to Folgore Caratese. And I don’t know where Gabriel is. He did not play with the Primavera last weekend, his last opportunity to do so this season. Nor was he on the bench against Juventus. Leaving the possibility open for Primavera keeper Narduzzo to potentially be the number two keeper on Sunday…. am I dreaming? It seems so surreal. Or maybe Allegri is just trolling Catania, I don’t know.

Brace yourselves for the full Bonera

I am quite sure Ambrosini will not be fit in time, meaning Allegri has his choice of Montolivo plus two. Let’s just hope and pray that one of those two will be Boateng, if for no other reason than to keep him away from the front. Speaking of the front, it cost him €20.000, but Balotelli will be back with his bleached mohawk and all. So at one end, we have the fear of a defensive failure with Bonera and Amelia, and an equal reaction, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, that Balotelli will be up front. So the game plan will clearly be to score more goals than we concede. And accompanying Balotelli in this effort should be the ever-tough El Shaarawy and hopefully Niang, but knowing Allegri, Robinho. That’s alright. I think one or both of the mohawk-wearing strikers can make up for what Robinho has been lacking this calendar year, or maybe even trick him into giving them some nice assists.

Is Allegri just trolling?

Whatever Allegri does to either try to secure the Champions League spot, or to sabotage our best efforts, I think our boys will find the way to win. Certainly now that Berlusconi just had his appeal rejected and will be personally hemorrhaging money to his wife, he won’t want to see his team give up the income that comes with Champions League next year. He may have let Galliani keep Allegri on despite the entire universe calling for him to be sacked, but the big guy doesn’t like to part with his money, even if it’s not really his yet. So watch carefully these next five matches. Allegri will be under even bigger pressure this season to qualify than he was last season to try to win. And who knows? Maybe Milan will get lucky and qualify for Champions League and finally lose Allegri? Hey, a girl can dream.

This post inspired by music of Nirvana

Milan vs. Catania
Sunday, April 28 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match will be broadcast LIVE on RAI in the U.S.
(check comments for stream links before kickoff)